The Expanse Review: “Azure Dragon”

The Expanse continues with it short sixth season, its brilliance uninterrupted.

Note: the next two episodes, “Force Projection” (December 24) and “Redoubt” (December 31) will be reviewed together on New Year’s Day.

Probably late on New Year’s Day.

Title: “Azure Dragon”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Jeff Woolnough

Written by Ty Franck, Daniel Abraham, Julianna Damewood, Glenton Richards
Adapted from the novels by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (as James S.A. Corey)

Steven Strait as Jim Holden
Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata
Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal
Wes Chatham as Amos Burton
Frankie Adams as Roberta “Bobbie” Draper
Nadine Nicole as Clarissa “Peaches” Mao
Keon Alexander as Marco Inaros
Jasai Chase Owens as Filip
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala
Cara Gee as Camina Drummer
Anna Hopkins as Monica Stuart
Kathleen Robertson as Rosenfeld Guoliang
Anna Hopkins as Monica Stuart
Joanne Vannicola as Nico Sanjrani
Ted Dykstra as Gareth
Stuart Hughes as Liang Walker
Gabriel Darku as Yoan
Vanessa Smythe as Michio
Samer Salem as Josep
Conrad Coates as Admiral Sidiqi
Daniel Jun as Gary
Dianne Aguilar as Dot
David Klein as Azure Dragon Pilot
Emma Ho as Cara
Ian Ho as Xan
Matt Birman as UNMC Supply Sargeant


The war in space continues, the Rocinante head on a dangerous mission with the assistance of a new but familiar crew member, Inaros springs his son and gets some surprisingly straightforward advice from Rosenfeld Guoliang (surprising in that everyone else tells him what he wants to hear, a situation that never ends well, historically), Drummer plots, and Avasarala makes an offer to the reporter who has been shadowing her.

Meanwhile our Laconian plot moves forward: a little girl, an alien creature, a metaphor for messing with Things We Do Not Understand, and…. some things that are going to matter.

Finally, we’re reminded that the stolen protomolecule sample remains out there, somewhere. As Tolkien writes, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

High Point

I cannot identify a high point, and I offer my low point with great reluctance. This episode is brilliantly written and plotted, the leads prove equal to the script, and we were engaged the entire time.

Low Point

It’s barely a low point at all, but the manner in which the tension between Draper and Mao gets resolved feels a little too pat. I accept it, however. Sometimes conflict works itself out this way, and I cannot dispute that the conclusion is touching.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 6/6

Acting: 5/6 The script handles the tensions among the characters effectively. Avasarala interaction with Monica prove she can be as quietly Luciferian as any powerful person; their interaction felt a little like the opening of The Godfather. The crew of the Rocinante work as a crew, but they have reasons to be uncomfortable with the events. Steven Strait’s performance as Jim Holden shows us the assured calm with which he commands. He’s the captain. No one on board the Rocinante, however skilled or physically powerful, should ever question that fact.

Against the SF backdrop, we see actual human feelings.

Emotional Response: 6/6 Suspense permeates this episode. We care about the characters. The show’s brilliant visuals are secondary.

Story: 6/6 Once again, the writers demonstrate how one handles multiple plots without causing confusion. The Expanse, in its last three seasons, ranks among the most solidly-written series on television.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 6/6

In total, “Azure Dragon” receives 38/42

3 replies on “The Expanse Review: “Azure Dragon””

  1. Mao’s smiling and reaction to Holden was perfect. It perfectly conveyed what was going on before she explained it to Amos, and all of it was as easy to read as if had been subtitled. I was impressed with the acting and production on it.

  2. “Once again, the writers demonstrate how one handles multiple plots without causing confusion.”

    It sounds like you are contrasting this with a different series that didn’t do it so well. I wonder Who…

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